Marvel Presents 3 Was the first story starring the Guardians of the Galaxy since their introduction in 1969. It was cover dated February 1976 and was released November 1975, sharing the racks with Action Comics #456, Fantastic Four #197, Flash #239, Iron Man #83, Justice League of America #127 and X-Men #97. These and other details are found on the quite frankly excellent Mike’s Amazing World website, which has tons of comic related information and is found at www.dcindexes.com.
The issue was written by Steve Gerber, who by this point is the Guardians writer and drawn by A Milgrom, who has always done great space opera work. The Guardians at this point consist of Charlie-27, Jupiter born Soldier, Martinex, the crystallin scientist from Pluto, Starhawk, who at this point remains a mystery, Vance Astro, the man from the 20th century, trapped in a foil suit and his friend Yondu, the weapons master of the Centauri system. This story follows on from the Defenders story which ended in Defenders 29, where all of the prisoners on Earth were freed by Doctor Strange. Once this had happened, the opposition to the Badoon went from the few resistance fighters and the Guardians of the Galaxy to an army of 50,000,000, or the population that was left on Earth at that point.
After a fierce battle in the streets of New Moscow, the Badoon leader on Earth, a creature called Koord tries to run, but is executed by Martinex of the Guardians, with the last of the Brotherhood of the Badoon falling before them and there being no reinforcements coming, the battle is seen to be won. At which point Starhawk flies into space to await the arrival of the Sisterhood of the Badoon.
The Sisterhood arrive and offer to take custody of the Brotherhood, hereby freeing Earth for good, but the human race after 8 years of genocide and tyranny want blood. Starhawk and the Guardians then take all the Badoon they can and deliver them to the Queen of the Badoon to get them off Earth in a more bloodless fashion. One would think that a happy ending, but no.
One by one, the Guardians find that once the war is over, they no longer fit in as they once did. Yondu finds there to be no challenge left and nothing life affirming in the Earth as it is, but after surviving an attack, feels that he has survived for a purpose.
Martinex finds that a newly freed humanity has relearned predjudice and xenophobia, whilst Charlie-27 finds the absence of respect for others discouraging and soon leaves his new job in construction.
Vance fares no better. At a caberet, he sees a woman dance and she shows in him, this leaves him despondent and when a fellow patron is less than sensitive, Vance responds by destroying a table with his mind. As he leaves, his thoughts begin to drift to suicidal. Immediately he is beamed aboard the Guardians ship, the Captain America and finds the rest of the team waiting for him. Starhawk has a mission.
This rather melancholy tale had to be told, there was no way to keep the Badoon as the big bad indefinitely, but once they were dealt with you either have to give them the happy ending or show why there is no happy ending. This issue deals with that quite well and sets up the idea that the Guardians of the Galaxy have a greater purpose ahead of them. Milgrom is a great artist for this issue, showing facial expressions in great detail which not skimping on the action. Gerber adds his own flourish, showing that despite their colourful costumes and strange powers these aren’t your usual superheroes and not really one big happy family. I read this years ago and it led me to want more, which I suppose was the point behind Marvel Presents.